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Zoomusicology is a field of musicology and zoology or more specifically, zoosemiotics. Zoomusicology is the study of the music of animals, or rather the musical aspects of sound or communication produced and received by animals.
Zoomusicologist Dario Martinelli describes the subject of zoomusicology as the "aesthetic use of sound communication among animals." George Herzog (1941) asked, "do animals have music?" François-Bernard Mâche's Musique, mythe, nature, ou les Dauphins d'Arion (1983), includes a study of "ornitho-musicology" using a technique of Nicolas Ruwet's Langage, musique, poésie (1972), paradigmatic segmentation analysis, shows that birdsongs are organized according to a repetition-transformation principle. One purpose of the book was to “begin to speak of animal musics other than with the quotation marks” (Mâche 1992: 114), and he is credited by Dario Martinelli with the creation of zoomusicology ().
In the opinion of Jean-Jacques Nattiez (1990), "in the last analysis, it is a human being who decides what is and is not musical, even when the sound is not of human origin. If we acknowledge that sound is not organized and conceptualized (that is, made to form music) merely by its producer, but by the mind that perceives it, then music is uniquely human." According to Mâche, "If it turns out that music is a wide spread phenomenon in several living species apart from man, this will very much call into question the definition of music, and more widely that of man and his culture, as well as the idea we have of the animal itself." (Mâche 1992: 95)
Shinji Kanki composes music for dolphins according to conventions found in dolphin music or found to please dolphins in his Music for Dolphins (Ultrasonic Improvisational Composition) for underwater ultrasonic loudspeakers (2001).
Composers have evoked or imitated animal sounds in compositions including Jean Phillipe Rameau's The Hen (1706?), Camille Saint-Saens's Carnival of the Animals (1886), Olivier Messiaen's Catalogue of the Birds (1956-58), and Pauline Oliveros's El Relicario de los Animales (1977). (Von Gunden 1983, p.133)
- Von Gunden, Heidi (1983). The Music of Pauline Oliveros. ISBN 0810816008.
- Zoomusicology site by Dario Martinelli under construction
- Nattiez, Jean-Jacques (1987). Music and Discourse: Toward a Semiology of Music (Musicologie générale et sémiologue, 1987). Translated by Carolyn Abbate (1990). ISBN 0691027145.
- Zoomusicology by Dario Martinelli
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